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Greatest Stoke City Players Ever – Top 10 Legends

3. Freddie Steele

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Freddie Steele is Stoke City’s second-highest scorer of all time and has one of the most prolific goals-to-game ratios in the history of the English national team. Steele would have achieved even more had his career not been plagued by serious injuries, depression and the Second World War.

Sir Stanley Matthews described him as “Stoke City’s greatest centre-forward,” and his record of 140 goals in 224 games for the Potters would certainly back that up. Steele isn’t just one of the greatest Stoke City players ever, he is also considered a legend by Port Vale supporters.

Signing with Stoke City in 1931 at the age of fifteen, he set a club record when he scored 33 league goals in the 1936–37 season. During the season his 214-day-long international career also made for impressive reading, as he hit eight goals in six games for England.

2. Denis Smith

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Denis Smith has hero status among Stoke City supporters who stood on the Victoria Ground terraces during the sixties and seventies. He spent 17 years playing for his hometown club and was a vital part of the Potters team which won the League Cup – the first major trophy in the club’s history – in 1972.

A hard-tackling defender, he soon established himself in the first team, playing in a centre-back partnership with Alan Bloor for much of his career. Stoke enjoyed one of the most successful periods of their history during his time at the club.

Denis played alongside such Potters greats as Gordon Banks, Alan Hudson, George Eastham and Jimmy Greenhoff.  With him in the team, Stoke reached successive FA Cup semi-finals in 1971 and 1972. He also helped the club to successive fifth-place finishes in the First Division in 1973–74 and 1974–75.

He will always be remembered by their fans as one of the greatest Stoke City players ever.

1. Sir Stanley Matthews

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Sir Stanley Matthews is one of the greatest British footballers ever. He is the only player to have been knighted while still playing football. His legacy with The Potters is everlasting.

He started his career with Stoke, playing for the club from 1932 to 1947. His career, as was inevitable, was hampered by the Second World War. Still, he managed to score 51 goals in 259 appearances.

A teetotaller and vegetarian, Matthews kept himself fit enough to still be playing at the top level at the age of 50, and finally retired in 1965.

A mark of Matthews’ greatness was that his testimonial was played against a World XI boasting true greats like Ferenc Puskás, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Lev Yashin, and Josef Masopust.

This is the engraved quote below his statue outside Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium:

“His name is symbolic of the beauty of the game, his fame timeless and international, his sportsmanship and modesty universally acclaimed. A magical player, of the people, for the people.”

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